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Tools and Practices for Land Use Integration

Project Prioritization and Funding Strategies

State DOTs, MPOs, and other regional planning agencies use project prioritization strategies and a wide range of programs to help determine how to best use limited funds to accomplish goals related to integrating land use and transportation. Agencies can use grants or other funding programs to achieve these goals. They can also develop prioritization criteria for projects that meet specific land use and transportation goals.

State and Regional Land Use and Transportation Capital Grants and Technical Assistance Programs

Many State and regional agencies develop competitive funding programs, often using Federal and State funds. These programs support capital improvements and planning technical assistance that integrate transportation and land use and promote walkability and transit-oriented development. Local governments or other eligible agencies may apply for assistance through these programs.

Before and after images of street, with a textured crosswalk and striping, pedestrian scale lighting and street trees.
Streetscaping in Oakland | Metropolitan Transportation Commission Transportation for Livable
Communities Program

Examples in Practice

San Francisco Area Transportation for Livable Communities Program
Metropolitan Transportation Commission (San Francisco, CA area, MPO)

Since 1998, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission's (MTC) Transportation for Livable Communities program has awarded over $200 million to better link land use and transportation decisions made by the region's cities and transit operators. The program provides planning and capital improvement grants for community-based transportation projects that enhance downtown areas, commercial cores, neighborhoods, and transit corridors. The program provides large scale land use planning grants through the Station Area Planning Program, and smaller, local level technical assistance grants through theTechnical Assistance Program. The TLC Capital program also offers incentives for housing development in livable communities. Funding has come from Federal sources including STP, CMAQ, and Transportation Enhancements, as well as from the State Transportation Development Act.

Contact: Therese Trivedi, MTC (510) 817-5767.

Minneapolis-St. Paul Area Livable Communities Grant Program
Metropolitan Council (Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN area, MPO)

The Livable Communities Grant Program, established by the Minnesota legislature in 1995, provides grants to communities in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area to develop plans and implement projects to support mixed-use, walkable neighborhoods, Brownfields cleanup, and affordable housing. Administered by the Metropolitan Council, the program has provided over $198 million in funding and is expected to leverage over $3 billion in private investment.

Contact: Linda Milashius, Metropolitan Council, (651) 602-1541.

Dallas Area Land Use / Transportation Joint Venture Program
North Central Texas Council of Governments (Dallas, TX area, MPO)

The Sustainable Development Program, administered by the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG), has provided approximately $124 million in STP and CMAQ funds for transportation improvements (such as pedestrian and bicycle improvements) supporting transit-oriented developments, mixed-use, urban developments, and infill developments. Calls for projects are issued every few years (thus far in 2001, 2006, and 2010), to fund sustainable infrastructure, land banking, and planning projects. Approximately $124 million worth of sustainable development projects have been selected for funding through the program, with additional local match contributions of $31 million. The matches come from a variety of sources, including: local governments, municipal funds, tax increment financing districts, and right-of-way land donations. In addition to transportation infrastructure improvements, funds were available for land banking and local sustainable development planning programs. NCTCOG reports that as a result of the first call for projects and in anticipation of the second call, many local governments updated or changed their zoning to include classifications that allow mixed-use sustainable development projects to be built by right. NCTCOG finds creative ways to combine Federal and local funding to streamline and accelerate implementation of small infrastructure projects. NCTCOG has a presentation with more details about the program.

Contact: Karla Weaver, NCTCOG (817) 608-2376.

Atlanta Livable Centers Initiative
Atlanta Regional Commission (Atlanta, GA area, MPO)

The Atlanta Regional Commission's (ARC) Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) provides planning grants for communities located in existing town centers and activity centers to develop plans that enhance livability and mobility. Using Federal transportation funds, since 1999 the program has provided $1 million annually in planning grants, and the region's long-range transportation plan allocates $500 million (approximately $20 Million annually) to implement projects. To date, 92 projects and $182 million in LCI transportation funds have been programmed in ARC's Transportation Improvement Program. Grant recipient communities have adopted LCI studies into their comprehensive plans, designated special LCI zoning districts, and developed policies that focus on housing for seniors and people with special needs. LCI study grants have proven to be innovative ways to generate private investment to develop creative solutions in support of regional visioning that links land use and transportation. To date, LCI has contributed to more than 1,100 new and refurbished developments in more than 100 communities across the Atlanta region.

Contact: Dan Reuter, ARC (404) 463-3305.

Albany Community and Transportation Linkage Planning Program
Capital District Transportation Committee (Albany, NY area, MPO)
The Capital District Transportation Committee (CDTC) initiated the Community and Transportation Linkage Planning Program in 2000 to help integrate land use and transportation decisions. The program provides CDTC staff or private consultant support for local community planning initiatives. CDTC has committed approximately $100,000 annually in staff time and $300,000 annually in consultant resources - approximately 25 percent of its planning work program - to undertake collaborative, jointly-funded local land use and transportation planning studies. Seventy one such studies in 40 municipalities have been undertaken through 2011. The studies are helping to implement key policies of the New Visions regional transportation plan through local adoption of land use plans, highway and transit designs, zoning ordinances, driveway standards, pedestrian and bicycle accommodation, and other activities. The program has proven very successful in engaging the MPO with land use planning issues and generating project candidates for CDTC's transportation improvement program. A regional roundtable of municipal planners (with mandatory participation of Linkage study municipalities) meets quarterly to allow communities to build upon each other's experiences. See the Albany, NY Case Study.

Contact: Sandra Misiewicz, CDTC (518) 458-2161.

Charleston Area - Our Region, Our Plan Initiative
Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester (Charleston, SC area, COG)
The Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester (South Carolina) COG (BCDCOG) serves as the MPO and regional planning agency. In addition to transportation planning, the COG assists local and county governments with comprehensive plan updates and zoning ordinances. The COG's role in providing planning assistance has allowed it to work with local jurisdictions to incorporate smart growth recommendations from a regional growth options study into local plans and zoning. The BCDCOG is working with the economic and land development communities and general public to identify a preferred 'blueprint' for future growth of the region, along with implementation strategies in the Our Region, Our Plan initiative. Related COG activities to implement the Growth Options study recommendations include updating the long-range transportation plan to address urban and facility design; encouraging a "complete streets" approach to facility design that accommodates all modes; conducting focus groups on multi-jurisdictional land use, connectivity, and transportation coordination at a sub-regional level; partnering with public health, schools, and bicycle and pedestrian organizations to promote bicycling and walking; and partnering with the development community to find ways to address the "how to" get to the vision for the region.

Contact: Kathryn Basha, BCDCOG (843) 529-0400 x210.

Washington, DC Area Transportation/Land-Use Connection Program
National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (Washington, DC area, MPO)

The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB) launched the Transportation/Land-Use Connections (TLC) Program in 2006. The program offers technical assistance to local jurisdictions and a website that acts as a source of information on transportation/land-use coordination and a clearinghouse for TLC's previous technical assistance documents. TLC has distributed over $1 million in small planning grants, used for activities ranging from public involvement facilitation to development of visualizations, streetscape and infill designs, planning documents, and scoping for longer term planning studies.

Contact Sarah Crawford, TPB (202) 962-3237.

Wisconsin Transportation and Land Use Coordination
WisDOT (Wisconsin DOT)

The Wisconsin DOT (WisDOT) provides internal guidance and training for headquarters and district staff on participation in local comprehensive planning activities (WisDOT Transportation and land use). WisDOT also has developed guidance for local jurisdictions on considering local and statewide transportation issues in comprehensive planning activities. As a result, district engineers and planners work closely with municipalities to coordinate the department's corridor planning activities with local land use planning, and to provide input into local comprehensive plans that affect important state travel corridors.

Contact: Aileen Switzer, WisDOT (608) 266-3662.

Montana Urban Transportation Districts
Montana DOT

Counties in Montana use Urban Transportation Districts (UTD) to develop transportation services and facilities within specific areas. The UTDs use government bonds to fund transportation improvements. The revenue to pay for the bonds is raised through increased assessments on properties within the district. In Montana, State law allows counties to designate urban transportation districts and issue bonds to pay for improvements, with an approving vote by county residents.

Contact: Sue Sillick, Montana DOT (406) 444-7693

State and Regional Project Prioritization/Selection Criteria

MPOs and State DOTs use project selection criteria to make decisions related to the long-range transportation plan (LRTP) and the transportation improvement program (TIP). To best promote land use-related goals, agencies can develop specific selection criteria that support land use priorities for certain modal investments, or priority areas in which to target development and transportation investments.

Map of priority investment areas in Wilmington, DE.The map identifies heavily populated areas, moderately populated areas and rural areas.
Map of Priority Investment Areas | Wilmington Area Planning Commission

Examples in Practice

Denver Area TIP Selection Criteria that Support the Regional Vision
Denver Regional Council of Governments (Denver, CO area, MPO)

The Denver Regional Council of Governments' (DRCOG) selection criteria for local projects in the 2012-2017 TIP include up to 26 points (out of 100) for implementation projects supporting the regional Metro Vision. Points are awarded for projects located in urban centers, strategic corridors, or within urban boundary areas. Many of these areas are aligned with transit systems.

Contact: Denver Regional Council of Governments (303) 455-1000.

Wilmington Area Transportation Investment Areas Prioritize Appropriate Projects
Wilmington Area Planning Commission (Wilmington, DE area, MPO)

The Wilmington Area Planning Commission (WILMAPCO) designated five categories of "Transportation Investment Areas" throughout the region: Center, Core, Community, Developing, and Rural. Each of the designations is based on current and expected future development patterns. The agency uses the designations to help screen potential LRTP projects, to ensure that projects are appropriate for their local context. An important application of the policy has been to prioritize areas in which pedestrian and bicycle facilities should be routinely included in roadway improvement projects.

Contact: Heather Dunigan, WILMAPCO (302) 737-6205.

Seattle Area Regional TIP Policy Framework Supporting the Regional Vision
Puget Sound Regional Council (Seattle, WA area, MPO)

The Puget Sound Regional Council's 2009 Regional TIP Policy Framework includes project selection criteria for consistency with Vision 2040, a regional transportation and land use vision adopted in 2010. Candidate TIP projects receive points for supporting designated urban centers, manufacturing/industrial centers, and connecting corridors, with specific criteria including circulation/continuity, urban environment, mobility/accessibility, benefit to the center, and sustainability. See: Puget Sound Regional Council, "Regional Project Evaluation Criteria."

Contact: Puget Sound Regional Council (206) 464-7090.

State Fiscal and Regulatory Incentives

State agencies can provide incentives, such as prioritized capital funds or expedited review and permitting, to projects and programs that support identified land use priorities.

Construction crews repair a light rail facility as part of the NJFIT program.
NJ FIT Light Rail Construction | New Jersey DOT

Examples in Practice

New Jersey Future in Transportation Program
New Jersey DOT

The New Jersey DOT (NJDOT) uses the Future in Transportation (FIT) program to target investments toward communities that work collaboratively with NJDOT and other State agencies on land use planning. FIT provides support for planning studies that address transportation and land use, as well as project implementation. The FIT program also supports policy changes, including topics such as: context-sensitive design, network connectivity, roadway design, and community involvement.

Contact: Assistant Commissioner, Capital Investment, Planning and Grant Administration, New Jersey DOT (609) 530-5228.

Oregon Integrated Investment Strategy
Oregon State agencies, including Oregon DOT

The State of Oregon uses an integrated investment strategy to ensure that State programs consistently support growth management objectives. The multi-disciplinary Economic Revitalization Team (ERT) includes staff from the following 10 state agencies: Business Development Department; Department of Transportation; Department of Land Conservation and Development; Department of Environmental Quality; Department of State Lands; Department of Agriculture; Housing and Community Services; Department of Energy; Water Resources; Consumer and Business Services. The ERT provides quick-response technical assistance to communities that have transportation-related land use issues. One important example was working with a major employer to stay downtown instead of moving to a greenfields location.

Contact: Lori Jones, Economic Revitalization Team (503) 378-5690.

Utah Smart Growth Planning Assistance and Funding Priority
Utah State agencies, including Utah DOT

The Utah Governor's Quality Growth Communities Program, established in 2004, offers planning assistance and funding priority to jurisdictions that enact "smart growth" measures. Cities, towns, counties, special districts, transit authorities and other service providers are eligible for the program. Four State agencies - the Departments of Transportation, Natural Resources, Community and Economic Development, and Environmental Quality - collaborate to develop priority funding programs. To be eligible, entities must apply for designation as a "Quality Growth Community" or a "Quality Growth Service Provider." To become certified, a community must be engaged in an enhanced community planning process, including working closely with neighboring communities on areas of common concern.

Contact: John Bennett, Governor's Office of Planning and Budget (801) 538-1027.

Maryland Priority Funding Areas
Maryland State agencies, including DOT

Since 1997 the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) has used Priority Funding Areas to target transportation investments to areas that will best support economic development and new growth. Funding for projects in municipalities, other existing communities, industrial areas, and planned growth areas designated by counties receive priority for State funding over other projects. The criteria have led to multimodal improvements in urban areas and consideration of potential impacts of highway bypass projects on communities.
Contact: Don Halligan, MDOT Transportation & Land Use Planning (410) 865-1294.

Transit Corridor and Station Area Development Programs

The historic McKinney Avenue trolley in Dallas, in front of a mixed use development.
Historic McKinney Avenue Trolley | Dallas Area Rapid Transit

State DOTs, MPOs, transit agencies, and cities can provide technical assistance, financial assistance, and outreach to promote transit oriented development along key transit corridors and in station areas. Programs include elements such as grants, project selection criteria, and strategies for coordinating with developers to promote transit oriented development.

Examples in Practice

New Jersey Transit-Friendly Planning Assistance Program
New Jersey Transit

New Jersey Transit's Transit-Friendly Planning Assistance Program provides technical assistance to communities through on-call consultants with expertise in transportation planning, urban design, market analysis, economic development, downtown revitalization and community outreach. The program has supported development of several consensus-based, transit supportive land use "vision plans" that have been used to guide development at and around surrounding existing or proposed transit facilities. To learn more, visit the New Jersey Transit website and click on "Transit Friendly Land Use."

Contact: Vivian Baker, New Jersey Transit (973) 491-7822.

San Francisco Area System Expansion Planning Process
Bay Area Rapid Transit Authority, San Francisco, CA

In 2002, the Bay Area Rapid Transit Authority (BART) adopted a new system expansion planning process and policy that emphasizes cost-effectiveness, ridership generation, multi-modal access, transit-oriented development, local partnerships, and the use of appropriate transit technologies. The process requires that before BART will approve a system expansion, requesting municipalities must prepare a Ridership Development Plan that includes transit-supportive land use plans, zoning, infrastructure, and services. Jurisdictions not prepared to make the land use changes needed for a high project rating are encouraged to consider lower-cost transit alternatives. The cities of Antioch and Pittsburgh have both adopted Ridership Development Plans that function as comprehensive station area plans, analyzing land use and access to proposed station sites. The eBART project will provide a 10-mile system expansion into Contra Costa County, with stations in Antioch and Pittsburg.

Contact: Ellen Smith, BART (510) 287-4758.

Fort Worth Transit Corridor Urban Villages
City of Fort Worth (Texas)

The City of Fort Worth uses community-based plans, fiscal incentives, and targeted public investments to stimulate private investment and growth in 16 "urban villages" located around historically key intersections along bus corridors and, in some cases, adjacent to planned passenger rail stations. In each village, the city conducted a community-based charrette process to achieve consensus among local stakeholders regarding appropriate types of development. The city offers fiscal incentives to cover financing gaps for innovative and potentially profitable projects, which may be otherwise difficult to finance. In addition, the city requires developers applying for building permits and financial incentives to meet specific design criteria. As a result, proposed projects better meet pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use, and higher-density urban infill goals. Through this program, over $19 million in public-sector infrastructure investment has directly leveraged $112 million in private development. But the impact of the urban village program has been far more extensive: the City of Fort Worth estimates that the total private investment in urban villages between 2001 and 2010 has been over $1 billion. In 2010, an additional $7.5 million in grant funds were awarded for streetscape and planning projects in urban villages and planned transit-oriented development sites in Fort Worth.

Contact: Eric Fladager, City of Fort Worth (817) 392-8011.

Parking Benefit Districts

The establishment of "parking benefit districts" can serve as a financing tool to support improvements in downtown areas. These districts often help reduce the need for surface parking lots and dampen local traffic congestion while funding local improvements. Within a parking benefit district, public parking spaces (both on and off-street) are charged an hourly rate designed to keep approximately 15 percent of parking spaces vacant at all times. Funds collected from parking charges go directly to improvements that make the district more attractive, such as sidewalks, landscaping, and other amenities or aesthetic improvements. In addition, traffic congestion in the district may be reduced by as much as 30 percent because downtown shoppers and employees will no longer need to circle block-after-block in search of vacant parking spaces. New parking meter technologies have improved customer convenience (customers can pay remotely by credit card or cell phone), increased pricing flexibility (rates can be changed in real-time based on location, time of day, day of week, or level of occupancy), reduced streetscape clutter, and reduced operating costs.

Examples in Practice

Washington D.C. Pilot Parking District
District of Columbia District Department of Transportation
In 2008, the District of Columbia's District Department of Transportation established a pilot parking district program to encourage alternative transportation, increase retail parking availability, reduce congestion and neighborhood spillover parking. The district includes performance based meter rates, which charge higher parking prices for peak periods, and variable parking fines. The variable rates are linked with peak shopping periods among the retail establishments in the area and special events. A portion of the revenue from the parking meters will be used for pedestrian, bicycle, and transit infrastructure improvements.

Contact: Terry Bellamy, DDOT at (202) 673-6813.

Austin Parking Benefit District
City of Austin
The City of Austin implemented a Parking Benefit District in 2006 along San Antonio St, between MLK and West 26th Street, in the "West Campus" area. The district was created in conjunction with an approved zoning overlay for increased residential density. The revenue from the parking meters in the Parking Benefit District is accrued in a Capital Improvement Project (CIP) to fund pedestrian, bike, and transportation improvements in the neighborhood, such as improved sidewalks, curb ramps and street trees. These amenities will support the increased residential density and accommodate multimodal transportation. The parking meters, in addition to collecting revenue, also serve as a vehicle to promote alternative transportation. The meters have decal messages with information about alternative transportation in the area to increase awareness among new residents.

Contact: Katie Larsen, City of Austin (512) 974-6413.

Updated: 10/21/2014
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